- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2012

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama didn’t quite reach the “Buffett rule” threshold with their income in 2011, paying an effective federal tax rate of 20.5 percent, according to their tax returns released Friday.

The Obamas reported adjusted gross income of $789,674 last year, including presidential wages of $394,821 and business income of $487,928 from the sale of the president’s books.

The Obamas paid total federal taxes of $162,074. Mr. Obama is pushing Congress to enact a law that would require taxpayers who earn $1 million or more to pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent; a test vote in the Senate on the legislation is scheduled for Monday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president’s taxes would rise under his own proposals, which include the expiration of tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 per year.

“The president believes we must reform our tax system, which is why he has proposed policies like the Buffett rule that would ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up,” Mr. Carney said in a blog post on the White House’s website.

The release of the president’s taxes prompted his campaign manager, Jim Messina, to berate Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, for not releasing his returns.

Mitt Romney’s defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question — what does he have to hide?” Mr. Messina said in a statement.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman accused Mr. Obama of trying “to distract Americans from the real issues” and said the Obama administration “has the worst job creation record in modern history.”

Gov. Romney has already released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “He will release his full 2011 return when it is filed.”

Mr. Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on income of $21.7 million in 2010, and gave about 14 percent of his income to charity. The former Massachusetts governor’s estimate for 2011 shows he expects to pay roughly $3.2 million, for an effective rate of about 15.4 percent.

The president and his wife reported total itemized deductions of $278,498, including charitable donations of $172,130 (22 percent of their income), state and real estate taxes of $58,804 and mortgage interest of $47,564. They paid $12,491 under the alternative minimum tax that was enacted originally to make sure that wealthier taxpayers pay at least some taxes.

Mr. Obama and the first lady donated $117,130 in after-tax proceeds from his children’s book to the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that helps veterans and military families receiving medical treatment. The couple’s next-largest donations were $5,000 each to the Boys and Girls Club, the United Negro College Fund, Habitat for Humanity and Sidwell Friends School, which their daughters attend. They also gave $3,000 to the National AIDS Fund.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill, reported income of $379,035 in 2011. The Bidens paid $87,900 in total federal tax last year and contributed $5,540 to charity, about 1.5 percent of their income.

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